The NBA’s Tuesday night slate was brutal as both games were decided by a total of 65 points.
The No. 1 seeds, the Heat and Suns, cruised to capture 3-2 series leads behind the play of their stars, Jimmy Butler and Devin Booker. Joel Embiid struggled massively for Philly, posting a playoff career-worst -29 plus-minus. Any Mavericks not named Luka Doncic or Jalen Brunson were virtually invisible.
As The Athletic’s Law Murray pointed out, Dallas and Philadelphia will need to make history to advance to the conference finals and comeback after losing Game 5 of a 2-2 tied series by 30 or more points.
Is it possible?
How the Sixers can come back
Embiid tweaked his back in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s game, then got hit in the face and never really looked engaged in the ways we’re used to. He’s battling, like, every injury possible as indicated by the mask he’s wearing on his semi-broken face. He’s giving his all, but without being his usual superstar self, a Philly series win is looking grim.
The other elephant in the room is James Harden, who has scored 20 or fewer points in four of five games this series. He’s making less than 40 percent of his shots from the field. Yikes. If Harden doesn’t become more assertive (he took just three free throws in Game 5), this could be a wrap.
The 76ers’ odds to win the series are set at +320, meaning a $100 bet would earn you $320.
How the Mavericks can come back
I mean, simply making 20 3-point shots like they did in Game 4 is probably a good answer here. Their 25 percent shooting (8-of-25) in Game 5 didn’t make staying in the game simple. But the problem that’s been at the forefront of Luka Doncic’s playoff struggles still persists: does this team have any scoring depth at all?
While Doncic and Brunson combined for 49 points in Game 5, the rest of the team scored 31. That’s not gonna do it! Spencer Dinwiddie had four games in the first round where he dropped 17 or more points. He’s had no such nights against the Suns.
The Mavs’ odds to win the series are set at +540, meaning a $100 bet would earn you $540.